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Impeach Bush

Support our troops? (2003)
Washington Post
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 21, 2003; Page A10
Editors Note:

This is part one in a three part series. In part 1 Democrats support both the president and our troops during a military conflict. But, has it always been this way? Part 2 shows us only 41 Senators supported our troops in Kosovo, with republicans leading the charge against supporting our troops. Finally, in part 3, there was NO support from the republican party for our troops or for President Clinton in his attempt to go after Saddam. Remember these articles.

When you hear republicans beat up on Daschle for daring to disagree with Bush, remember.... Remember too how it was perfectly patriotic to oppose Clinton but somehow it's down right evil for Daschle to dare to think about disagreeing. Then note how democrats fear this president and are afraid to vote against him. They will get their butts kicked in the next election and the next and the next until they learn how to fight back. Playing footsie with Bush cost them seats in the last election. Now it'll cost them any chance of having power for the foreseeable future--as it should be. Our only hope is a democrat president, one who has the balls to take on Bush and the hate-all-democrats media.

Democrats also need to learn that being decent doesn't get you any place in American politics these days. You have to go for the kill in every battle, just like the republicans. Forget about being right, forget morality, forget common decency. All they get you is minority status and no power.

Finally, note how James Baker rips into Clinton for not having a coalition against Iraq. Today, he and other republicans disregard that argument and support Bush even though only Australia and Britain are sending troops to Iraq. If you read rank hypocrisy in this section...that is its intent.


Part 1 2003

Members of Congress put aside most of their disagreements over the invasion of Iraq to praise President Bush and the 250,000 U.S. troops carrying out his war plans in the Persian Gulf region.

The Senate voted 99 to 0 yesterday for a resolution that "commends and supports the efforts and leadership of the President, as Commander in Chief, in the conflict against Iraq." The resolution effusively praised the troops "who are participating in the military operations in the Persian Gulf region, for their professional excellence, dedicated patriotism and exemplary bravery."

It also expressed "sincere gratitude to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government for their courageous support." Blair has stood by Bush despite substantial opposition from the British public and his own political party, contributing more troops to the U.S.-led effort than any other nation.

In the early morning hours today, the House voted 392 to 11 to approve a resolution expressing even stronger praise for Bush than did the Senate version, and stating that Iraq was in "material breach" of United Nations resolutions.

The debate over the wording was much more contentious in the House, where Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unsuccessfully fought into the late evening to tone down support for Bush and delete other passages opposed by antiwar Democrats, congressional sources said.

Pelosi was squeezed between her base of antiwar liberals who felt the House resolution was overly supportive of the president and scores of other Democrats eager to be on record strongly backing Bush and U.S. troops. At one point, Rep. Martin Frost (D-Tex.), a war proponent, fired off a letter to Pelosi pointedly warning, "we should not equivocate in our support." Pelosi voted for the resolution.

Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the GOP's lead negotiator in the talks, all but dared Democrats to vote against it by refusing to change disputed sections, including one stating "Congress expresses the unequivocal support . . . for [Bush's] firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq." In the end, 11 Democrats voted against the resolution; 21 voted present.

The Senate debate was far more bipartisan and unified in tone.

The Senate, which often has seemed conspicuously detached from the uproar over Iraq in recent months, at 2 p.m. interrupted a heated debate over the 2004 federal budget, which includes a rare wartime tax cut, to stage a three-hour discussion of the war 6,000 miles away. Republicans and Democrats paid tribute to the troops, some of whom were crossing the Iraqi border at that moment.

Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who three days ago blasted Bush for his failure to win U.N. approval to wage war, said: "We may have had differences of opinion about what brought us to this point, but the president of the United States is the commander in chief, and today we unite behind him as well."

Daschle was among 29 Senate Democrats who voted more than five months ago to authorize war. Since then, he and many other Democrats have been highly critical of Bush's handling of the showdown with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Yet even Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of the most outspoken critics of Bush and his war plans, yesterday muted his criticism and showered his attention on the troops "now risking their lives for opportunity and hope and liberty and justice for all." His voice booming, Kennedy concluded his speech with words from Vachel Lindsay's poem "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight:" "Too many homesteads in black terror weep."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who has assumed a low profile throughout the buildup to war, spoke of the president's "visionary leadership," and drew parallels to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "We are now at war, so we won't ever see what terrorists will do if supplied with weapons of mass destruction" believed to be held by Hussein, he said.

Yet the words of unity belied the division among Democrats over the resolution and the war effort overall. Hours before the House debate ensued, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.) issued the type of warning Democrats such as Frost worry may come back to haunt them.

"This administration must also accept responsibility for the cost of conflict in blood, in money and insecurity to our families," Doggett said. "It may take decades to undo the damage to our safety wrought by misguided policies and the failure of diplomacy."

The Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement in opposition to the war.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company


Support our troops? (1999}
CNN News
March 23, 1999
Web posted at: 8:32 p.m. EST (0132 GMT)

Part 2 1999

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday evening 58-41 in favor of a resolution supporting NATO military operations in Kosovo, just hours after Secretary-General Javier Solana gave the go-ahead for alliance air raids in Yugoslavia.

The resolution says the Senate "authorizes the president of the United States to conduct military air operations and missile strikes in cooperation with NATO forces against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- Serbia and Montenegro."

Even though Majority Whip Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma) was part of a bipartisan group of eight senators who wrote the resolution, he stated his intention to vote against it.

"I'm concerned we're making a mistake. I just don't believe you can bomb a country into submission and force them into a peace agreement that they determine is against their interests," said Nickles.

"Or I don't believe you can bomb a country and say, 'We're going to bomb you until you agree to have stationed 28,000 troops in your homeland,'" said Nickles, noting that the fighting in Serbia has been going on for centuries.

President Clinton had written a letter to Senate leaders asking for "legislative support" for NATO airstrikes. It convinced one lawmaker who read the letter on the Senate floor.

"I believe it would be a disastrous situation in the region if we don't act. This is a 19-nation operation," Sen. John Warner (R-Virginia) said.

Another Republican lawmaker objected to the resolution, saying it read more like an authorization, and he urged other senators to reject the resolution.

"This is not a matter for the use of the armed forces of the United States. This is not a matter demanded by our national security. This is not a way that we would even settle the civil war taking place in Kosovo today," Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Washington) said during debate.

Other senators wanted more facts about the mission before they voted to back it.

"This is a very, very unintelligible plan. You can't rationally accept the president's reasoning unless you conclude that they don't want to tell you where it's going to end up," said Sen. Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico).

"It doesn't take a lot of sense to say airstrike No. 1 may not work. Airstrike No. 2 may not work. We've been told by military experts years ago that airstrikes would not work in this area of the world," Domenici insisted.

Other senators disagreed.

"Clearly we know what the goal is here. The goal is to contain Milosevic. The goal is to stop the extraordinary violation of human rights. The goal is to undermine his military capability," Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) said. "We can achieve those goals."

Clinton invited to explain Kosovo policy

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) has invited Clinton to explain his Kosovo policy to a joint session of Congress.

Clinton is said to be considering it.

"I would hope that the president would come forward on a timely basis and do two things: Lay this out to the Congress and the American people, and also come forward with a plan for how we're going to pay for it," Hastert said during a photo opportunity.

Serbian-American senator Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who is of Serb descent, said earlier Tuesday that bombing Yugoslavia would be mistake.

"You're getting into something that could turn into another Vietnam," the freshman Republican said. "Who knows how this thing could escalate?

"This is a mistake," Voinovich insisted.

Voinovich emphasized his view does not reflect support for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, whom the senator described as a war criminal, "a bad person."

The opinion of many Serbs around the world, Voinovich said, is that Milosevic should be out of power, but "they believe this action is going to solidify his support so that it will be 10 times harder to get him out."

Russian also compares it to Vietnam

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev also warned NATO on Tuesday that military strikes against Yugoslavia could lead to a conflict like the military action the United States waged in the 1960 and '70s in southeast Asia, Interfax news agency said.

"NATO strikes against Yugoslavia may turn out to be another Vietnam, now inside Europe," Interfax quoted Sergeyev as saying.

Capitol Hill Producers Ann Curley and Mike Roselli, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Commentary:
Now a little history. President Clinton worked with our allies to gain their support in Kosovo. He also was armed with an agreement from NATO and the UN (1199 and others). On top of that Clinton persuaded the unwilling French to send troops into Kosovo (the west section). Yet, even with all this legal support for war, republicans didn't hesitate to attack and oppose him. Their support for our troops was lukewarm at best.

When you have a friendly press, as Bush has had, he gets away with no coalition, no support from NATO and no support from the UN. (But Democrats still support him---good grief.)

Bill Clinton had a hate-filled press and Congress. But against these odds he was able to prevail.

So what are we to make of France? Today, the French are hated by conservative commentators and those who are brain-dead simply because they didn't support Bush. France does support the US when the US is right, as proven by their support in Kosovo. So what happened this time? Is it because the US is leaderless under Bush? Sure it is. It doesn't take a lot of brain power to figure that part out does it?

President Clinton is and always will be a great leader. He was able to get others to agree with his position. On the otherhand, Bush can only buy friends, or cause fear if they dare to disagree. But how is this possible?

During the Clinton years there was no money to waste buying votes. Bill Clinton was cutting the deficit every year of his presidency so his positions had to be based on facts, not silliness and guesses about weapons of mass destruction. Bush will give us eight budgets with massive deficits. In other words, he uses your money to buy Congress and those few countries that support us (recall only Britain and Australia are sending troops).

Have you asked yourself what those 30 coalition partners are giving us in Iraq? If you don't know, you need to find out. The idiots in the press, who should know better (or don't care), let Bush get away with calling this a 30-nation coalition. The only problem is most of these countries aren't doing anything to support us (unless you call letting us fly over their airspace as giving us their support). Read A coalition of do nothingers for more.


Support our troops? (1996)
USA Today
September 13, 1996
09/13/96 - 05:25 AM ET

Part 3 1996

WASHINGTON - As U.S. warplanes flew to the Persian Gulf, Republican criticism of President Clinton's Iraq policy tore away the appearance of national unity customarily adopted in periods of international tension.

Clinton, ignoring the GOP reproaches, saved his tough words Thursday for Iraq's president.

"We cannot allow anybody anywhere to believe they are not bound by the rules of civilized behavior," Clinton said in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., where he was campaigning. "I don't want to get in a word war with Saddam Hussein, but we're going to do whatever it takes to keep him from threatening his neighbors, threatening our pilots."

But James A. Baker III, secretary of state during the 1991 war against Iraq that left Saddam in power, bitterly attacked Clinton's actions so far. Baker told a congressional committee the United States allowed its anti-Iraq coalition to break up and should have hit Saddam harder.

In the House, Republican leaders, insisting the administration has left them uninformed, continued to block consideration of a Senate-passed resolution supporting U.S. troops in the Gulf.

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) said the correct vote facing the House was not on the Senate resolution but on "whether we support this president on what he's doing with our troops right now."

The harsh words came as the Clinton administration girded for what appeared to be harsh action against Iraq. Eight radar-evading F-117A stealth fighter-bombers were being readied Thursday at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., for deployment to the Persian Gulf. Four B-52 bombers, most likely armed with cruise missiles, were headed to the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, a jumping-off point for a possible raid on Iraq.

As well, the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise was ordered from waters off Bosnia to join the carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Persian Gulf. The Army said it was sending two Patriot missile units and about 150 soldiers from Fort Bliss, Texas, to the Persian Gulf region, apparently to join Patriot batteries already in Saudi Arabia.

The United States will take all "necessary and appropriate actions" to defend its forces in the Middle East from any challenge posed by Saddam, Defense Secretary William Perry warned.

Queried about the GOP criticism, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon contended that last week's move to increase the size of the "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq had bolstered America's strategic position in the region. "We responded ... in an effort to diminish Saddam Hussein's military mobility and flexibility. I think we've succeeded in that," Bacon said.

Not so, said Jack Kemp, the Republicans' vice presidential candidate. In a statement released by the GOP campaign committee, Kemp outlined five ways in which he said Saddam has succeeded or is succeeding in strengthening his rule or weakening U.S. positions. "Saddam Hussein's goals are clear," Kemp said. "Bill Clinton must tell us what our goals are and how we can achieve them."

On Capitol Hill, while attacking Clinton's policy Republicans defended themselves against charges of disloyalty for criticizing the president during a foreign crisis.

"It used to be that foreign and security policy stopped at the water's edge. Unfortunately that's not the case," Baker said, paraphrasing the famous dictum uttered in 1948 by Sen. Arthur Vandenberg that politics should stop at the water's edge. "The idea that somehow Republicans should not feel free to speak their minds is a canard that just won't wash."

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Baker cited "a failure of leadership" as a reason behind Saddam's apparent recovery of authority in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. He praised last week's missile attack but said they should have been more comprehensive.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) cited examples of Democratic criticism of President Bush's foreign policy and said Republicans "have felt not only a right but an obligation to talk to the efficacy of this operation."

"I don't know how you can sit in the Oval Office and call the cruise missile strike a success when it clearly was not a success and not expect a response from this side of the aisle," McCain said.

Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Maine) said Republicans aren't the only ones being political, that Clinton's actions were being dictated by the presidential election campaign.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) said it was unlikely the resolution supporting U.S. troops without mentioning their commander in chief would be brought up for a vote.

In California, where Clinton was campaigning, White House spokesman Mike McCurry denied that the president did too little last week in dispatching 44 cruise missiles against air-defense radar sites. "The president is confident that this is a prudent, measured course of action," McCurry said.

Congressional Democrats sought to restrain their colleagues.

"The discussion here might lead Saddam Hussein to believe that he had succeeded in dividing the opposition," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.).

And Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) said administration actions in Iraq, far from constituting a failure of leadership, represent a continuation of the policy established under the Bush administration.

House leaders' refusal to move on the resolution supporting the troops but not their commander in chief brought denunciations from Democrats.

"Republicans are playing politics and want to embarrass the president as much as possible," said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

And Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said, "I find it incredible that we might stall a resolution in support of our troops."

Defense Secretary Perry found wry humor in the exchanges on Capitol Hill. Asked at a photo session about the sharp GOP words, Perry said: "That's the biggest surprise of the month."


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A coalition of do-nothingers
Knight Rider/Washington Bureau
By Jessica Guynn and Tom Infield
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Posted on Tue, Mar. 18, 2003

WASHINGTON - As the United States prepared for war with Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday said a coalition of 30 nations was supplying support that ranged from use of bases and airspace to experts in chemical weapons attacks.

Powell said 15 other nations privately back an attack on Iraq.

However, apart from Britain, which has sent 45,000 troops to reinforce more than 250,000 American troops in the Gulf, few nations have offered to provide a major military presence.

Spain, which supported the U.S.-led war plan, bowed to widespread antiwar sentiment at home and decided not to play a direct role in attacking Iraq. Spain will send a hospital ship, a mine-clearing unit, chemical detection experts, a frigate and an oil tanker. These tasks will involve about 900 military personnel.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard pledged 2,000 troops, fighter jets and warships. The troops already in the Gulf will fight with U.S. and British forces but will operate under a separate command.

"It's definitely not George Bush's father's coalition," said Patrick Garrett of GlobalSecurity.org, a Washington-based public policy group that has been monitoring the military buildup. The first President Bush was lauded during the 1991 Persian Gulf War for building a broad-based alliance to evict Iraq from Kuwait.

The State Department defines coalition allies broadly, Garrett said. "If they allow overflight or allow forces to be staged from their countries, they are considered part of the coalition."

Call it the coalition of the anonymous. So far, many of the countries that have thrown their support behind the United States haven't gone out of their way to publicize their contributions. The Pentagon won't say which or how many countries plan to send troops to Iraq.

One analyst expects more nations to join coalition forces now that the United States has made clear it intends to go to war despite the failure to win U.N. support.

"It is my guess that in the next 24 hours you are going to see people volunteering," said Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based public policy group that advocates a strong military. "It is the moment when you see people deciding, `Do I want to be on the side of the loser? Or do I want to be with the winner?'"

Most nations have deployed non-combat troops in largely symbolic fashion. Poland has offered 200 troops, and Albania has offered 70 soldiers for non-combat roles. Denmark has offered military and medical personnel aboard a small warship and a submarine. The Latvian government has sought authorization from parliament to deploy a small number of troops.

A number of European nations, including Germany, which opposed military action in Iraq, have sent chemical weapons specialists to help protect coalition troops and civilians from attack. The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany have each contributed about 200 soldiers. Bulgaria also has offered to send sent non-combat troops specializing in chemical and biological warfare decontamination. Romania has offered 278 non-combat nuclear, biological and chemical decontamination specialists, military police troops and de-mining units. The Ukraine also may send chemical specialists to join the task force.

No Arab countries - even Kuwait and Qatar, both staging areas for U.S. troops massing for an invasion of Iraq - are on the State Department's list of coalition forces. "A lot who live in the neighborhood do not want to be identified as Saddam's opponents until they're sure that he's gone," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said last week.

Gulf countries will likely contribute to coalition forces if only to defend their own territory from Iraqi counterstrikes, Garrett said.

Also missing from the State Department coalition list, points out Garrett, is the United States' main ally in the Middle East, Israel. "Putting Israel on the list would have ticked everyone off," he said.

Commentary:
The greatest superpower on earth can only get two countries to support us. That's too sad to contemplate. After a year and a half you'd think Bush would have the entire world behind him. Instead, he has a war torn Blair and an Australian PM who went to war without the consent of his Senate. The people of Australia and Britain are against this war.

It's also good to see great nations can't be bought off, no matter how much we offer them. It's also nice to see that great democracies still listen to the will of their people and great nations don't violate the "rule of law."

How fast the mighty fall from greatness, when led by a despot.


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Analysis: President's Budget Targets Children
Children's Defense Fund
Mar 05, 2003

Children's Defense Fund, U.S. Senators:
President's Plan Wages Unprecedented Assault on Poor Children

WASHINGTON - Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman today joined U.S. Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Shelton Park Elementary School PTA President Donna Donlon of Virginia Beach, Va., in releasing an analysis that shows how the Bush Administration's budget proposals single out the rich for massive new tax breaks while eliminating, dismantling, slashing and freezing essential children's services.

Edelman said the President's rhetoric claims compassion but that his budget says America believes children and the poor should subsidize tax breaks for the rich with the health care, Head Start, child care, education, after-school programs, jobs and income that working families urgently need to survive today.

"The Bush Administration's rhetorical mask of compassionate conservatism has been ripped off by one of the most uncompassionate and dangerous assaults on poor children in American history," said Edelman. "The President's plan mortgages our children's future for trillions in tax cuts for millionaires, adding to our debt while eliminating, dismantling, slashing and freezing numerous children's programs. Just the proposed Bush stock dividend tax cut cost alone could provide every unserved child a Head Start and health coverage - investments the Bush budget would dismantle."

Fifty-two percent of the $1.3 trillion tax cut passed in 2001 will go to the top one percent of taxpayers with average incomes over a million dollars in 2010, while numerous children's programs will be eliminated, dismantled, slashed, and frozen. Two hundred thousand children will lose child care over the next five years and 570,000 children will lose after-school care in a single year.


PRESIDENT'S BUDGET PLAN TARGETS CHILDREN

Administration Budget Proposal Eliminates, Dismantles, Slashes And Freezes Essential Children's Services

"The Bush Administration's rhetorical mask of compassionate conservatism has been ripped off by one of the most uncompassionate and dangerous assaults on poor children in American history. Promises to Leave No Child Behind® are mocked by tax and budget deeds which leave millions of children but no millionaire behind. The Bush Administration's plan says America believes children and the poor should subsidize tax breaks for the rich with the health care, Head Start, child care, education, after-school programs, jobs and income they urgently need to survive today."

- Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Defense Fund President

The Children's Defense Fund's analysis of the impact of the Bush Administration's budget and tax war on poor children finds that the President's budget:

- lavishes riches on the wealthiest while starving child investments.

- dismantles Head Start, Medicaid, housing assistance, and foster care programs, under the guise of state flexibility.

- slashes and freezes vital children's and youth programs.

- plays a shell game with child and youth investments. It gives a little with one hand and takes more with the other hand.

- uses children's programs as bait for deficit-ridden states awash in a sea of red ink, putting the most vulnerable children at risk of a double budget buzz saw.

- mortgages our children's and nation's future to give tax giveaways to millionaires and indiscriminately throws money at a military budget that currently spends $31.4 billion a month and $376.3 billion a year.

© 2002 Children's Defense Fund.

Commentary:
We have to wonder what kind of beast births a child like this. He takes money from programs for poor children and gives it to the richest of the rich. No real conservative would support the $400 billion deficit expected this year. Compassion? Conservative? How about neo-liberal? neo-conservative? or just plain evil?


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Swiss Legal Experts: War Violates International Law
Swiss Info. com
February 5, 2003 5:56 PM

As debate about the legality of a looming war in Iraq intensifies, many Swiss academics argue that the only way to ensure peace is through respect for international law.

In particular, they point out that the concept of "pre-emptive self-defence", cited by the Bush administration as the justification for war, is a fiction without a United Nations mandate.

Daniel Thürer, professor of international law at the University of Zurich, says the Iraqi conflict represents a crucial test case for international law.

"If… a second Iraq resolution is passed which authorises the explicit use of force this would be a strengthening of international law," Thürer told swissinfo.

However, he worries that the world's remaining super power is in a position to unilaterally overturn international law – although he hopes the US will "comes to its senses" early enough.

"Material breaches"

International legal arguments have flourished in recent weeks, after Washington declared the January 27 report by UN weapons inspectors clear evidence that Iraq had failed to comply with Security Council resolution 1441.

Resolution 1441, passed on November 8, 2002, requires Baghdad to open Iraq to unimpeded weapons inspections and make a full weapons declaration.

On Wednesday, the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, put forward what the US claimed was conclusive evidence of Iraqi "material breaches" against resolution 1441.

Thürer, although concerned about the threat of US unilateralism, does not believe a go-it-alone approach by the Bush administration would mark the end of international law.

Experts, such as Marcelo Kohen from Geneva's Graduate Institute of International Studies, accuse the US of conducting a "coup d'ètat against international law" – something Thürer believes is overstated.

What's a UN resolution worth?

Much of the legal debate surrounding the Iraqi crisis centres on questions about the value of UN resolutions in the post-Cold War era.

Albert A. Stahel, professor of political science and strategic studies at Zurich's Federal Institute of Technology, says UN resolutions have only ever been worth as much as the big powers choose to invest in them.

"Today's reality, however, is that there is only one world power," Stahel told swissinfo.

While four other states hold a Security Council veto, traditionally UN sanctions only succeed when the US is on board.

"The Cold War was conducted with relatively few UN resolutions, [largely] because of the balance of power that kept the US and Soviet Union in check," Stahel says.

These days, there is no such counter-weight, ensuring that resolutions require US backing.

"The exception is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he says.
 

Europe split

One of the most striking consequences of Washington's war strategy has been its impact on European unity.

Stahel criticises countries such as Britain, Spain and Italy for backing the US position - irrespective of the consequences for international law.

"[By contrast] France and Germany have made it clear that UN inspectors should be given more time to do their job," Stahel says.

Consequences for Switzerland

The Swiss position remains firmly opposed to a war, and the government has made it clear that any military action should have UN backing.

Victor-Yves Ghebali, from the Graduate Institute of International Relations, says a US attack on Iraq without a full UN mandate would push Switzerland back to its traditional stance of neutrality.

"In this case, Switzerland would have every reason to stay out of this war because it would be an illegal war," Ghebali told swissinfo.

"I believe, however, that Switzerland's traditional [foreign policy] is to side with those opposed to war in order to distinguish itself from those who unquestioningly back the US," he adds.

War now inevitable?

Despite all the debate about international law and the conduct of foreign policy, many observers now wonder whether war is inevitable.

Heinz Krummenacher, from the Swiss peace foundation swisspeace, believes war cannot be avoided, particularly given the strategic importance of Iraq's oil reserves, "as well as the president's hate-fueled words".

"Wars can be stopped…but not in this case," Krummenacher says.

"Mr Bush is on the wrath, while his whole entourage [of] Cheney and Rumsfeld is set on war."

Swisspeace believes that dangerous assumptions have been made about how a war in Iraq will be played out.

Much of it is based on the 1991 Gulf war, when US-led forces expelled Iraqi troops from Kuwait within weeks – and without significant Allied casualties.

This time around, things could be very different, he warns. "There are positive as well as very negative scenarios," Krummenacher says.

"But if we could do it, the safest solution would be to avoid this war."

swissinfo, Jean Michel Berthoud (translation: Jacob Greber)

© Copyright swissinfo SRI

Commentary:
The whole argument, if we can call it that, it that Iraq is somehow connected to al Qaeda. If such a connection can be made or had been made the world would probably support the US. I know I'm beating this like a dead horse, but the question needs to be asked again and again. What happens when a superpower violates the rule of law and fails to prove its case to the UN? Who will stop an American Hitler from taking over the world. The world is watching, wondering and asking, "how far will this tyrant go."


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Bush Budget: 14% cut in school funding for military children
Washington Post
By Brian Faler
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 19, 2003; Page A29

President Bush has prided himself on his support for education and the military, which is why, as the nation prepares for war with Iraq, some education advocates are surprised -- and angry -- that he is proposing a cut in funding for a program that aids schools for children of military personnel.

"The timing is incredibly poor," said Charles Patterson, superintendent of the Killeen, Tex., school district, which serves most of the children at Fort Hood, one of the nation's largest Army bases.

At issue is "impact aid," federal money designed to help public school districts with significant amounts of federal land. Most of the nation's schools are heavily dependent on property tax revenue, but school districts that include tax-exempt federal land, such as military bases, have a reduced tax base. The impact aid program has been in place since 1950.

About 1,300 school districts that have such tax-exempt property, including subsidized low-income housing and Native American land. About half of those districts serve about 385,000 children of military personnel.

In his fiscal 2004 budget, Bush recommends cutting $172 million -- about 14 percent -- from impact aid. The plan would eliminate funding to cover children whose parents work, but do not live on military bases, and slightly reduce the funding that covers children whose families live on base.

The administration argues that subsidies are not necessary, because school can collect property taxes from service personnel living off base. Moreover, the government said, it is a relatively insignificant cut when compared with Bush's increased spending in other defense and education programs. "You just have to look at the larger equation," said Trent Duffy, a spokesman for the White House budget office.

John Forkenbrock, director of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, and others say the current subsidy formula already provides less impact aid for children who do not live on base. Some districts rely on impact aid to supply as much as 50 percent of their operating budgets -- which critics fear that the other general education program increases will not replace.

The initiative threatens to eliminate about 10 percent of the operating budget of the Killeen school district. Patterson said the changes would force personnel cuts.

Meanwhile, he said, his district's needs have expanded with the march toward war. The base is home to about 42,000 troops -- 30,000 of whom have been or are scheduled to be deployed, he said. Many children have difficulty adjusting to their parents being absent or physically threatened. Some misbehave; others become withdrawn. Either way, Patterson said, the school's counseling demands have increased substantially.

The proposal would affect schools near bases in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News. At a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Gen. John P. Jumper, chief of staff of the Air Force, bristled when asked of the plan.

"It is certainly a concern to the Air Force and as a father of a child who goes to a school that benefits from this sort of aid," he said. "It was not something that was recommended by my service -- I can tell you that."

Forkenbrock and others remain confident that Congress will defeat Bush's proposal. The Senate Budget Committee voted last week to restore the cuts, as did the House panel, which added $19 million. But with the country headed toward war, many see the administration's initiative in symbolic terms.

"I feel it's betraying the military family," said John Deegan, superintendent of a school district near Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. "For all the things that the military family is willing to sacrifice and give and do -- to pull out the support of the education for their children at home? It's terrible."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Another broken promise. What did you expect from a man with no morals. Doesn't it irk you that Bush can find trillions of dollors to give to his super rich friends, but can't find a few million for the children of Vets? The Senate restored the money but later when the budget is out of balance he can blame then for increasing spending beyond what he wanted. It's the same old trick Reagan used when he had record deficits and needed someone to blame.


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Blix Says: Ending Inspections 'Not Reasonable'
Washington Post
By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 19, 2003; Page A17

UNITED NATIONS, March 18 -- The United Nations' chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said today that it "was not reasonable" for the United States to end U.N. inspections in Iraq at a time when its government was providing more cooperation than it has in more than a decade.

"I don't think it is reasonable to close the door on inspections after 31/2 months," Blix said in his first public appearance since 134 U.N. inspectors were evacuated from Iraq, effectively ending a 12-year effort to disarm Iraq through inspections. "I would have welcomed some more time."

Blix voiced disappointment and sadness at the failure to complete the peaceful disarmament of Iraq, and said he was confident that Iraqi leadership would not dare to use chemical and biological weapons against U.S.-led forces even if the country faced certain military defeat.

"I doubt that they will have the will," he said. There are "some people who care about their reputation even after death."

Blix conceded that Iraq has the technological wherewithal to develop chemical and biological weapons capable of striking at U.S. targets. But he said he doubted that the Iraqi government would risk an action that could rally international support behind the United States.

Jean David Levitte, France's ambassador to the United States, told CNN today that French President Jacques Chirac might consider joining the U.S.-led coalition if Baghdad uses chemical or biological weapons against the United States.

Blix noted that Iraq's decision to allow more than 300 U.N. employees, whom U.N. officials had feared could be used as hostages, to leave the country today demonstrated a level of goodwill that convinced him it would show restraint in the face of an invasion.

"There is a fair amount of skepticism about armed action," Blix said. "That skepticism would turn around immediately if they used chemical or biological weapons. My guess is they would not."

Despite the apparent conclusion of U.N. inspections, Blix said he would provide the Security Council on Wednesday with a "work program" outlining the future of inspections. In the meantime, he added, he would "watch with great interest to see what [U.S. forces] find" in Iraq.

Foreign ministers from seven Security Council nations, including France, Russia and Germany, will appear at the session.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will not attend. "Given Iraq's consistent lack of cooperation . . . it doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about future cooperation, future work programs," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said today.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
"Not Reasonable." Perfect words to describe Bush and his followers. If reason had anything to do with it, he would have never passed a tax cut that is giving us the largest deficits in US history. If reason had anything to do with this war, we'd have proven our case to the world. I'm guessing world opinion will favor this war after it's over. Already in Britain, the numbers are border-line.

Never underestimate around the clock propaganda. We also know how well our government is able to lie to us during times of war, as evidenced by the Gulf War. Few Americans know or care to know how many innocent civilians we killed in 1991 and you can bet they don't want to know this time either.

The long-term damage to US relations is inevitable. Who in the United Nations will trust this President, his Secretary of State, or our Ambassador? They have all stained themselves with far too many lies to be trusted.


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British revolt in Parliament: biggest in over 100 years
The Sydney Morning Herald (AU)
By Peter Fray, Herald Correspondent in London
March 20 2003

Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, yesterday survived an unprecedented backbench rebellion to secure parliamentary approval for British troops to join the war against Iraq.

Ten hours of debate ended with about half of Labour's backbench - 139 MPs - voting against Mr Blair, who had staked his political future on winning parliamentary backing for the war.

It was the biggest revolt in the Parliament against a sitting prime minister for more than 100 years and followed a rebellion two weeks ago, when 122 Labour MPs defied the Government.

After a rousing performance by Mr Blair, yesterday's revolt was smaller than predicted and has defused any immediate threat to the Prime Minister.

But rebel MPs warned it would damage Mr Blair's relationship with the parliamentary party.

Three ministers, including the former foreign secretary, Robin Cook, and five ministerial aides have resigned in protest against Britain going to war without a second United Nations resolution authorising war.

But another cabinet minister, Clare Short, decided not to resign, despite earlier threats to do so. Ms Short is expected to play an important role in British efforts to rebuild postwar Iraq.

Immediately after the vote, senior government ministers called on the Parliament and the country to unite behind Mr Blair, and in support of British troops, who are expected to be at war within hours.

The cabinet minister and Labour party chairman, John Reid, said that now the democratic decision had been taken "it is time for the country and Parliament to unite".

A spokesman for Mr Blair said all MPs would now give "the support our armed forces deserve".

Mr Blair, appearing grave and fierce, opened the debate by warning he would "not be party" to pulling back British troops.

"This is not the time to falter," he said. "This is the time for this House, not just this government or indeed this prime minister, but for this House to give a lead, to show we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk, to show at the moment of decision we have the courage to do the right thing."

One Labour rebel, Peter Kilfoyle, a former Blair Government minister, told Parliament that British troops were about to fight in a war which was "illegal, immoral and illogical".

He warned that the real target were terrorists - not Saddam Hussein. "[This is] the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, against the wrong enemy," he added.

With the backing of most of the Tory opposition, the Government defeated the rebel motion opposing the war by 179 votes - 396 against to 217 for - and subsequently won its own motion supporting the war by 412 for to 149 against. Britain's third party, the Liberal Democrats, voted against the Government.

Before the vote, Labour whips engaged in several days of arm-twisting to minimise the revolt.

If 165 Labour MPs had rebelled, Mr Blair would have needed the support of the Tories to win the debate and would have been severely weakened.

A new poll has found that, for the first time, most Britons support Mr Blair's stance against Iraq. A survey by YouGov for London's Daily Telegraph found 50 per cent of voters backed military action, compared with 42 per cent against.

Copyright © 2003. The Sydney Morning Herald.


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Wiretapping Found at E.U. Offices
Reuters
Filed at 9:52 a.m. ET March 19, 2003

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Telephone bugs have been discovered at offices used by France, Germany and Britain in the building where European Union leaders are due to hold a summit this week, an EU spokesman said on Wednesday.

Sweden's EU ambassador said only a few intelligence services were capable of installing such sophisticated devices, which may have been in action undetected ever since the pink granite EU Council building was inaugurated in 1995.

Officials said the wiretapping devices, found in a routine security sweep on February 28, were attached to phone lines to delegation suites used regularly by national leaders, ministers and senior officials attending EU meetings.

The countries targeted were France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain and Austria, the officials said.

The French newspaper Le Figaro, which broke the story in a brief item in its diplomatic gossip column, accused the United States of being behind the wiretapping, revealed amid acute transatlantic tension over looming war in Iraq.

But Dominique-Georges Marro, head of the EU Council press service, told reporters: ``We do not know who is behind it. I don't know who was on the other end of the line.''

After EU ambassadors were briefed on the espionage affair, Swedish envoy Sven-Olaf Peterson told reporters: ``They were very sophisticated installations, we are told, which only a few intelligence services are able to install.''

He said the devices had been found on February 28, attached to certain phone lines in the central switchboard. It was not clear why ministers and ambassadors were not informed until after the Le Figaro report.

``TRANSPARENT'' EU

``There are many indications that they were installed with the building (in) 1994-95. It is naturally very serious that someone has installed illegal listening devices in our building,'' Petersson said.

The discovery added to the sense of gloom and distrust in Brussels ahead of an EU summit set to be dominated by the Iraq crisis, which has deeply divided the 15-nation bloc.

Britain, Italy and Spain have strongly backed the United States' plans for war on Iraq while France and Germany have led EU and wider international opposition to any military action.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, condemned the wire-tapping but tried to laugh it off.

``To all those who feel a need to tap our phones let me say that Europe is a very transparent organization. They are welcome to use our Web site (to get information)... They should not go to such lengths,'' he told a news conference.

One EU diplomat said several delegations had received a warning two weeks ago to avoid confidential telephone calls in the Council building because of the danger of eavesdropping.

But Papandreou said he only found out about the incident on Wednesday morning, as did EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana whose office is in the Justus Lipsius council building.

Neither Solana's office nor those of EU military personnel were among those targeted, officials said.

The Council's security service is conducting the probe with help from the authorities of host country Belgium and those countries affected by the wiretapping, officials said.

Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd.

Commentary:
Impeach 67 has an article on the US getting caught bugging the UN. Guess who I think is bugging the EU? Com'on...guess! US Surveillance Operations at UN


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